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Coast guard, cargo ships rescue 700 migrants at sea near Italy; boats aim for Europe's shores

The Italian coast guard says more than 700 migrants have been rescued near Sicily in less than 24 hours.

The stream of smugglers' boats aiming for European shores continues without letup despite renewed pledges by European leaders to better manage illegal migration.

The coast guard said Friday that it had received sat phone requests, since late Thursday afternoon, to aid five boats crowded with 705 migrants near Sicily. All were rescued except for one migrant who reportedly fell into the sea during rescue operations by a Maltese cargo ship. The coast guard says a search was launched.

Thousands of migrants try to reach Italian shores by sea each year. Some 365 migrants drowned in an Oct. 3 capsizing near Lampedusa, an Italian island.